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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 7, Episode 12
712 Potential
Air date January 21, 2003
Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by James A. Contner
Episode Guide
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Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Guest Starring
Tom Lenk Andrew
Iyari Limon Kennedy
Clara Bryant Molly
Indigo Rona
Co Starring
James C. Leary Clem
Sarah Hagan Amanda
Felicia Day Vi
Derek Anthony Imposing Demon
Uncredited
Sonni Stommel Potential

"Potential" is the twelfth episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the one hundred thirty-fourth episode altogether. It was written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner and directed by James A. Contner. It originally broadcast on January 21, 2003.

Willow learns from her contacts that there is another Potential Slayer in Sunnydale. She casts a reveal spell that makes all the Scooby Gang (except Buffy, who is not home) think this new Potential is Dawn. Dawn runs into her friend Amanda, who tells her that all sorts of strange things have been happening to her. The two go to the school to investigate. Their encounter with vampires and Bringers leads Dawn to realize that Amanda is the actual Potential, not her. Dawn and Amanda escape and Buffy, Spike, and Xander arrive in time to defeat the Bringers.

Synopsis

712 Potential1

Training.

Two Potential Slayers, Rona and Vi, walk alone in the cemetery until Spike knocks Rona out of the way, grabs Vi and leans in for the kill. Buffy and the other Potentials watch and learn from this example and Buffy lectures the girls on how to deal with vampire attacks. Buffy has Spike attack her to continue, but she easily gets the upper hand and pins Spike to the ground, reawakening some of his wounds and his feelings for her.

Back in the Summers' basement, the Potentials argue about petty things until Buffy gets their attention focused again with a strict reminder about the seriousness of death. They believe The First is taking a brief break from them, but it will come back stronger and better than before. While Dawn watches silently from the stairs, Buffy tries to give the girls another pep talk.

At work, Buffy talks with Xander on the phone until a student, Amanda, comes in for counseling. The girl asks about liking a boy who picks on her and seeks Buffy's advice, but Buffy gets a bit distracted with her own similar situation with Spike and rambles about how she's not going to let that problem happen again. Buffy returns home to bickering amongst the Potentials and news from Willow that another Potential has been found, already in Sunnydale. The Potentials examine weapons and Dawn tries to fit into the group's conversation, but it's a struggle. Spike arrives and then leaves with Buffy and the other girls for some training. Andrew pouts because he's not invited and although silent, Dawn feels left out as well.

712 Potential2

Willow's spell appears to identify Dawn as a Potential Slayer.

Willow prepares the ingredients for a spell that will locate the Potential Slayer and surround her with a glowing aura. The spell is performed at the fireplace, but at first it doesn't succeed, just creates a horrible smell. Dawn tries to open a door to air out the room, but the light follows her, knocking her into the door and surrounding her. Dawn starts to freak out at the news that she's the latest Potential. She's worried that her becoming a Slayer would mean her sister would have to die first. Dawn doesn't want to tell Buffy what's going on and goes upstairs to think alone while the rest of the gang debate the pros and cons of the situation and telling Buffy. Dawn overhears the conversation and feeling the weight of their concerns and her potential fate of death, she sneaks out the window.

Buffy and Spike take the girls to a demon bar to explain the art of getting information out of the demonic patrons there. They run into Clem and after a brief happy exchange with him, Buffy secretly asks him to scare the overly confident Potentials. His face expands into a mass of snakelike limbs and such, making the girls scream and Spike laugh. While walking alone outside, Dawn runs into Amanda who has a scratch on her head and claims to have been attacked by a vampire. The girl explains that she managed to get away and lock the vampire in one of the classrooms. Having heard rumors about Buffy, Amanda was going to ask for her help, but Dawn volunteers to take care of the problem.

Dawn and Amanda break back into the school, but when they reach the classroom, they find the door unlocked and don't see the vampire hiding wedged against the ceiling. The vampire falls as the girls try to leave and it chases them out into the halls until they reach locked doors. Trapped, Dawn turns to a fire extinguisher and when she can't get it to work, she knocks the vampire around with it instead then bolts with Amanda. Buffy and Spike show the girls a crypt and teach them about the living quarters of vampires. While investigating the area, the girls find a dead body, but Buffy shows them that it's a vampire.

712 Potential3

Dawn: Remember when you said I was special? Well, I'm not. But the thing is, you are. This is your battle, Amanda.

At the school, Dawn and Amanda hide in a classroom and push a set of drawers against the door while Dawn tries to come up with an escape plan. Buffy tosses the vampire around while lecturing the girls about successful fighting and keeping a straight head during battle. Meanwhile, Dawn puts Buffy's lessons to use and acts resourcefully until the vampire pins her to the ground and goes in for the bite. The Bringers then suddenly break in through the windows and grab Amanda instead of Dawn. After beating up the vampire a bit, Buffy drops her stake and, along with Spike, leaves the girls trapped alone with the vampire. Back at the house, Willow, Xander and Anya Jenkins find that Dawn has bolted and Willow rushes to do a spell to find her before it's too late.

Dawn uses the room's chemistry supplies to set the Bringers on fire and escape with Amanda. She realizes that Amanda is the true Potential Slayer and willingly hands over the right and her weapon to Amanda. The frightened teen has a hard time grasping these strange realities Dawn explains, but she doesn't have much time to think about it. Xander arrives at the school with Buffy and Spike as the Bringers attack full force. Amanda keeps the Bringers at bay and stakes the vampire that attacked her earlier while Buffy and Spike finish off the Bringers. As Amanda rambles to Buffy about the strangeness she's dealing with, Dawn reveals that Amanda was standing outside the front door when she was hit by the aura cloud from Willow's spell.

Amanda and the other Potentials talk and bond about their successes with fighting the forces of darkness while Dawn secretly watches from the other room. Buffy checks in with Dawn, but she doesn't pick up on Dawn's real problem. While Buffy takes the other girls down to the basement for training, Amanda and Dawn trading a friendly smile, Xander catches on to Dawn's disappointment about not being a Potential. Xander confides in her how hard it is for him to be the normal member of the gang and he relates to Dawn's pain. He reminds her that she doesn't need to be special with powers, he's been fighting along side super powered people for years with no powers of his own, kissing her and saying she's "extraordinary" just the way she is. In return, Dawn suggests that he does have a power, his ability to notice what's really going on with the people he loves, despite the barriers.

Continuity

  • This was the beginning of the Potentials' formal training under Buffy and Spike.
  • Buffy tells the Potentials that although most people have no idea why they exist, the Potentials do—they have "a mission, a reason for being here". This is very similar to what Giles told her when he asked her how many people her age can say that they have a purpose, a commitment in life.[1]
  • This was the first time that Andrew sat in on a Scooby meeting, the first step in his integration into the Scooby Gang.
  • This showed the similarity between Dawn and Xander, possibly hinting at their eventual relationship. Dawn and Amanda also seem to keep a close relationship throughout the series.
  • Buffy and Spikes feelings for each other begin to surface again.
  • While preparing for the potential-seeking spell with Willow, Andrew says "Killing pigs is just so wrong... and also hard." This is a reference to his attempt and failure to kill a pig in Never Leave Me
  • Dawn says to Xander "you had that sexy army training for a while", which refers to episode Halloween. Although in this episode Dawn didn't appear as reality was not yet modified by monks of the Order of Dagon, Dawn is present in their memories. She also smiles fondly at the mention of Oz although the two characters never meet onscreen.
  • Dawn also says to Xander "seeing" may be his super power ("Maybe that's your power... Seeing..."). This will appear again in the season with the evil priest Caleb noted that Xander was "the one that sees everything".
  • Xander mentions Oz. This is the last time he is referred to on the show.

Body Count

  • One vampire, dusted by Kennedy, Molly, Vi and Rona
  • One Harbinger of Death, stabbed by Buffy
  • One Harbinger of Death, stabbed by Spike
  • One Harbinger of Death, snapped by Buffy
  • One vampire, dusted by Amanda

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • The role of Amanda (who first appeared in "Help") was originally intended as a one-episode part, but was brought back as a recurring character (beginning with this episode) due to Sarah Hagan's connection to episode writer Rebecca Rand Kirshner, who wrote for Hagan's previous series Freaks and Geeks.

Deleted Scenes

  • When Buffy, Spike, Dawn, Molly, Rona, Vi, Kennedy and Andrew are in the kitchen this line was cut due to length - or maybe there wasn't enough room:
Kennedy: "Hey guys, we fit three more people in here and we can call the Guinness Book people."

Pop Culture References

  • The Slayer line is compared by Anya to the line of succession for the pope.
  • Clem's face gag that terrifies the Potential Slayers is essentially a CGI version of the one in Beetlejuice.
  • Andrew compares himself to Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z (and in a roundabout way compares Buffy to Goku), and also asks Dawn if she wants to "play Dragon Ball Z".

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • Buffy tells the Potentials that her death would make one of them the new Slayer. Dawn also makes the same assumption when she, Willow, Xander, and Anya are discussing what it means for her when they think that she is a Potential, and Dawn states that if she were to become the Slayer, it would mean that Buffy had died. Given that Faith became a Slayer after Kendra died, and there was no other Slayer called after Buffy died in The Gift, Faith would have to die for a new Slayer to be called. However, it's possible that they were unclear if Buffy's resurrection had changed the rules, or that with Faith in prison they stopped thinking of her as a Slayer.
  • In the scene where Dawn talks with Xander, Anya, Andrew, and Willow about the possibility that she might be a Slayer, a boom mic is seen at the edge of the screen. More specifically, the shot of Xander and Willow after Anya says "That's because you're a part of something larger. Like being swallowed. By something larger." The mic can be seen at the middle right of the screen.
  • Chloe is inexplicably absent from this episode. She is the only Potential Slayer currently residing at the Summers residence who does not appear in the entire episode.

International titles

  • German: Die Anwärterin (The Potential)

Music

Other

  • This episode is Dawn-centric.
  • Despite her own objections to the idea of the Cruciamentum, this is exactly what Buffy submits the Potentials to: they are trapped in a building without any Slayer powers, expected to kill a vampire through the use of their cunning and training alone.
  • The twelfth episode of the season was generally the episode in which Buffy has her birthday. Apart from the first season, which was a mid-season replacement and probably began just after Buffy's sixteenth birthday, this is the only season where Buffy's birthday is not only uncelebrated but also unacknowledged. Actually, in the birthday episode of the previous season, "Older and Far Away", Spike did suggest Buffy should not celebrate her birthday anymore.

Quotes

Xander - "Seven years, Dawn. Working with the Slayer. Seeing my friends get more and more powerful. A witch. A demon. Hell, I could fit Oz in my shaving kit, but come a full moon, he had a wolfy mojo not to be messed with. Powerful. All of them. And I'm the guy who fixes the windows."
Xander - "They'll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn't chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because...nobody's watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You're not special. You're extraordinary."
Dawn - "Maybe that's your power."
Xander - "What?"
Dawn - "Seeing. Knowing."
Xander - "Maybe it is... Maybe I should get a cape."
Andrew - "What's going on?"
Anya - "Dawn's gonna be a Slayer."
Andrew - "Holy crap! Excuse me. Plucked from an ordinary life, handed a destiny."
Xander - "Say "Skywalker" and I smack ya."
Willow - "It's not like that. It's like, she's part of this huge power. I know what that feels like. It feels wonderful."
Andrew - "Yes, Willow so captured it. It's like... Well, it's almost like this metaphor for womanhood, isn't it? The sort of flowering that happens when a girl realizes that she's part of a fertile heritage stretching back to Eve, and..."
Xander - "I'll pay you to talk about Star Wars again."
Vi - "They're demons! It's a demon bar. It's like a gay bar, only with demons."

References

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